Reacting to a tie is a confusing endeavor. From a neutral standpoint, everyone loves close games and teams fighting to the bitter end. One team finally gets a break to go their way and comes out on top in exhilarating fashion, while fans of the losing team deal with the heartbreaking nature of a loss that could have easily been a win if they had just accomplished X, Y, or Z. Neutral spectators, on the other hand, just love to see NFL competition at its best and the breathtaking finishes that close games almost always end in.
That is, when the two teams don’t muck it all up like the Bengals and Redskins did on Sunday and finish the game with no winner. Ties are no fun for anyone, save for that short moment Bengals fans experienced at the end of overtime when the game felt lost, but the Bengals’ defense managed to pull together and somehow salvage a half win from a game that they clearly deserved to lose. For just about everyone else, as explained by Peter King of Monday Morning Quarterback, ties just aren’t fun to watch.
The NFL went 33 game weeks (462 games total) without a tie, then two games in a four-game span were draws: the 6-6 Seattle-Arizona slugfest eight nights ago, and the 27-27 missed-chance-fest between Washington and Cincinnati on Sunday morning in London. The Competition Committee never asks me, but I think there should be no fifth quarter. Ties should be played until they’re broken. What is it, an extra three or four series a year, maybe?
Weirdly enough, if you’re going to tie anywhere - it might as well be in England. Their preferred sport, soccer, is no stranger to the idea of tying in the regular season. Like American football, ties are not allowed in the postseason and measures are taken to ensure that it is impossible to do so. But, despite the fairly pathetic end to this game, it’s the kind of result that fans in London already know how to enjoy.
We’re glad you enjoyed it, Who Dey UK.
However, that’s just not the feeling that most Bengals fans had in a game that, almost literally, slipped out of the team’s hands. That is - when the Bengals got the ball back in overtime after Washington’s missed field goal only to watch Andy Dalton fumble the ball right back on a third down quarterback sneak. Ultimately, as explained by Martin Rogers of USA Today, it was a game of missed opportunity, after missed opportunity.
In a game where both teams were afraid to win, in the end, neither of them did. Dustin Hopkins could have wrapped it up for Washington with a 34-yard field goal deep into overtime, but he pulled his kick wide. The Bengals could have had a chance had Andy Dalton not fumbled on third-and-1 once the game had reached sudden death.
It might look ugly in the standings, but heck, we were at the home of soccer for goodness sake — a sport that enjoys a battle where honors are even more than any. And here in England, one of the national sports, cricket, regularly sees games lasting five days before ending in a draw.
Those who watched the game will likely point toward Bengals kicker Mike Nugent and Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins for their incompetence, leaving a total of 10 points on the board between them. Technically, if you give each team the points that their kickers left on the field, the Redskins would have won by a score of 33-30. But, when you think about it, as explained by Scott Allen of The Washington Post, the Bengals would have won if both kickers were on point on Sunday, despite Hopkins leaving more points on the field than Nugent.
The kicking display by Dustin Hopkins and Mike Nugent was an insult to the 84,000 fans in the Wembley Stadium crowd, many of whom were likely wondering at what point the game would go to penalty kicks and why Americans insist on calling this sport football. Hopkins, who had missed two field goals all season, missed two more against the Bengals, including a 34-yarder with 2:11 remaining in overtime. Cincinnati might have won in regulation if Nugent hadn’t bent a third-quarter extra point like Beckham.
You could also technically make the argument that Hopkins’ missed kick in overtime should still count toward any hypothetical adjusted scoring situations to determine which team should have won this game. The real answer is neither. Tying is never fun, but both teams deserved that outcome after both failed to put the game away despite multiple opportunities. But, a big part of the reason that Hopkins missed that field goal in overtime is because Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis applied a rarely effective use of a timeout right before Hopkins split the uprights beautifully, so the play was blown dead and Hopkins had to try again, this time with a lot more tension.
However, despite the astounding incompetence of the professional kickers who missed on what are essentially chip shots for players of their alleged caliber, it was actually a really good game in certain aspects. For the Bengals, in particular, the offense looked great save for a pair of gut-wrenching turnovers by quarterback Andy Dalton at the worst possible times. It was nice to see wide receiver A.J. Green had another dominant day but, as explained by Katherine Terrell of ESPN, we shouldn’t forget about how helpful it is to have tight end Tyler Eifert back at full speed.
It was Green's fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he is the only player in franchise history to have four 100-yard receiving games in the first eight games of the season. Now he's done it twice (the other time being in 2013).
But what the stats don't say is how Eifert's presence helped that outcome. Whether he was drawing a pass-interference penalty or simply drawing coverage away from Green, Eifert's return showed he's been at least one missing piece for the Bengals as they try to regain their 2015 form.
Now that Eifert is back, Green doesn't have to carry such a heavy load.
It's been essentially all or nothing for the Bengals without Eifert. If Green had a big day, so did the Bengals. If defenses utilized all of their resources to effectively stop him, the Bengals couldn't find a way to win.
Against the Redskins, it was much easier for Green to win his battles against an elite cornerback because he didn't receive as much double coverage from the defense as he might without Eifert on the field. Going forward, that's only going to help the Bengals' offense.
Eifert’s 102 receiving yards on the day didn’t quite live up to Green’s 121. But, what Eifert did do was bring down a touchdown pass in the red zone - something the Bengals have struggled to figure out how to do all season. It’s always nice having a weapon like him available, even if three of the team’s four touchdowns were on the ground. Simply put, Eifert’s presence keeps teams guessing and puts points on the board.
Eifert had 11 red zone touchdown receptions last season.. rest of team had eight combined— Richard Skinner (@Local12Skinny) October 30, 2016
For all non-Bengals and Redskins fans, this game was probably one of the better games of the season that could have been showcased to an international audience. There were plenty of highlights and mind-boggling plays that, ultimately, make for really good television. Furthermore, if you’re going to tie anywhere, it might as well be in Wembley Stadium.
The Twitter-sphere definitely had a thing or two to say about this tie, as you would expect. Here are just a few of the best reactions:
This Dalton season has been impressive for its total absence of plays just like that— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) October 30, 2016
Josh Norman just getting warmed up: "Who is Official 88? He sucked. He should be reprimanded." That would be field judge Brad Freeman.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 30, 2016